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  • So let’s talk about trees. But not the kind with flowers or fruit or leaves. No, I mean

    所以我們來談談「樹」,但是不是那種有花、長果子或有葉子的那種。 不!我指的是

  • the trees that underlie our sentences, the ones that build up the structure that our


  • words slot into and let us build bigger meanings. Every time you build a sentence, every time


  • someone talks to you, youre growing one of these trees. All I’ve just been saying

    有人在跟你說話的時候,你都在種出這一種樹。 我剛剛說的那些

  • has planted a little grove of language in your mind. So let’s do some climbing! I’m Moti


  • Lieberman, and this is The Ling Space.


  • There’s a whole branch of linguistics that’s devoted to looking at the structure of sentences,


  • known as syntax. But why do we even bother?

    也就是所知的「句法」。 但是為什麼我們還要這麼麻煩呢?

  • Can’t we just stack our words one on top of another like pancakes


  • to build some delicious meanings?


  • Well, there has to be some structure, or else we’d be able to work back from a smashed-up wreck


  • of a sentence like “a threatening hand is who Angel missing lawyer the is,” and have


  • it get the same meaning as the original, “The lawyer who is missing a hand is threatening


  • Angel.” Clearly, one of those is a good sentence of English, and the other one is just gibberish


  • that happens to be made up of English words. So structure must matter.


  • But what kind of structure do we need? Well, whatever hypothesis we come up with, it’s


  • got to be really flexible. That's because it has to capture all the variation in how all the


  • different languages in the world put together all their different sentences. We don’t want to say


  • Icelandic speakers have one basic way of making sentences, but Telugu speakers have a second


  • one, and Cree speakers a third. Building sentences with their own internal structures is something


  • common to every language of the world, and so an Icelandic baby dropped off in southeastern


  • India will learn Telugu syntax just fine. That’s because the basic framework of syntax


  • is universal. In fact, it’s part of Universal Grammar, the linguistic knowledge all people share.


  • But with all the surface differences, finding something that can branch its way through


  • every human language isn’t obvious. Not only does it have to be flexible, it also

    並不是很表面的。 不只要具有彈性,也要

  • has to be abstract.


  • So, here are a lot of hypotheses out there, but one of the most commonly talked about


  • ones, is called X’ theory, first proposed in the early 70s. The X in X’ doesn’t


  • stand for anything; it’s a variable, like in algebra. We can use that


  • variable to make a basic structure, a template, like this: X can stand for any noun or verb


  • or adjective or any category you want to build a phrase around. You end up with chunks of


  • syntax that can be stacked and connected together, and you do it in a way that’s flexible enough to communicate


  • anything that you want, in any language that you want.


  • This gets a lot clearer when you start looking at some examples. Let’s start with something

    當你看一些例子的時候會比較清楚。 我們來看看很簡單的例子

  • really simple: a name, likeCordelia.” Okay, so in your mental lexicon, where you


  • store all your words, each term belongs to a syntactic category - which is like a part of speech,


  • so a noun, an adverb, etc. “Cordeliais a noun, so when we want to putCordelia


  • in our X’ tree, we replace the Xs with Ns for nouns. In this phrase,

    放進我們的X'樹狀圖,我們把X換成N來表示名詞。 在這片語中

  • Cordelia is thehead”, which is the part of the phrase with the most content and meaning.


  • Because Cordelia’s the head of the phrase, and because it’s a noun, the whole thing


  • will become a noun phrase, or NP. Great! Done. Except, not really. This might work if we

    會變成一個名詞片語或是NP。 太棒了! 結束! 除了,其實不只。這個或許會有用,如果

  • never said anything more than bare nouns and verbs and things, but natural language is


  • a lot more involved than that. So sometimes all you want to say is Cordelia, but sometimes

    是比那複雜很多的。 所以有時候你要說的只是Cordelia,但是有時候

  • you might want to say nice things about Cordelia. Maybe you want to say, “The amazing Cordelia.”

    你或許想要說一些有關Cordelia的好事。 或許你想要說「太驚人的Cordelia了」

  • Where did those other words fit in?


  • Well, that’s where thebarpart of X’ theory comes to the rescue. So between the

    喲,標桿理論的「桿(bar)」就來解救這一個情況。 所以在

  • head and phrase level, we introduce one more layer of complexity: that's the bar level, which is written

    中心和片語的層級之間,我們導入多一層複合的層次,也是就「標桿等級(bar level)」,書寫時候會

  • with an apostrophe next to the letter that represents the head. The bar level is an intermediate, repeatable

    把一個省略符號寫在中心所代表的字母旁邊。「標桿等級(bar level)」在這模板是居中的且可重複的

  • stage in the template that allows us all the flexibility we need to


  • build bigger phrases and sentences. Let’s see how this works.

    造出更長的片語和句子。 我們來看看這怎麼作用的

  • Since theyre still all still associated with the noun - theyre all to do with Cordelia


  • - you need to have extra room for those extra words in your noun phrase. So they need to get nestled into

    你的名詞片語中需要額外的房間來給其他的字。 所以他們才可以住進

  • the NP, and that’s where the N’ comes in. Now your sentence is shaping up.

    這名詞片語中,而且這也是名詞桿(N')接下來出現的地方。 現在你的句子就往上長了

  • But wait. Why bother having these intermediate stages at all? Even if we know all these words


  • come together to make a noun phrase, why put in all these extra levels of structure? Why


  • not just put in an NP at the top, and then different labels for all the words below - so an N for the noun,


  • an A for the adjective, etc. That’d be easier, right?

    A代表形容詞等等。 這樣不是簡單多了嗎?

  • Wellhere’s the thing. The reason we needed syntax in the first place was to give


  • structure to how come sentences mean what they do, and have the word order that they


  • do. All the information about what a sentence means, that is the syntax, and it has to be


  • visible in our diagrams, why bother drawing trees in the first place, right?


  • So we end up needing to branch things off two by two with bar levels,

    所以我們結束用標桿等級(bar level)把東西一雙一對的分支下去

  • otherwise we wouldn’t know what parts go with other parts. We can even put as many

    否則我們不知道哪個部分要跟哪個部分在一起。 我們甚至也可以

  • bar levels into the structure as we want, so it'll work for any kind of sentence. For

    放入隨便多少標桿等級(bar level)到架構中,所以這樣才能適用於任何一種句子。

  • example, if we saidthe quirky, supremely intelligent Fred,” and there was no internal


  • structure, so everything was just flat, we wouldn’t know that supremely was supposed


  • to go with intelligent, and not with quirky. We wouldn’t be able to come up with any

    跟「聰明的」出現,而不是跟「狡詐的」。 我們無法想出任何

  • rules to stop these things. All the rules, everything that’s okay and not okay,

    規則來阻止這樣的狀況。 所有的規則,所有事情是可以或不可以

  • has to be seen in the structure.The bar levels give us a hierarchy that allows us to make

    都要在結構中被檢視。這些標桿等級(bar level)提供了一套階級制度讓我們

  • sense of things like this. Now, we knowsupremelygoes withintelligent”, and that you

    可以像這樣合理化句子。 現在我們知道「極度的」跟「聰明的」一起使用,而且你

  • can’t just pull words out willy-nilly to make nonsense sentences.


  • What X’ theory shows us is the way that we can build structure


  • in order to capture all the facts of language, along with the flexibility to add whatever


  • we like. They let us add potentially infinite parts before the head, likeThe bespectacled


  • bookish Brit Wesley,” or after it, as inthe vampire with a soul and a big black


  • coat.” And this sort of syntax also lets us capture facts about how we form larger


  • sentences, as questions, find ambiguity, and all sorts of other things, which well


  • talk about in the future.


  • Linguists today have a lot of other hypotheses about syntax, too, but X’ is a great place


  • to start because it shows all of the hallmarks of why syntax is real and useful. It can be

    很好的起始點,因為它顯示出了為什麼句子是真實且有用的所有特點。 它可以

  • applied to any type of word, in any type of sentence, in any type of language. It’s


  • just a template: a head with a phrase and as many intermediate stages as you’d like.


  • But by using that one little template, and putting it in every time you make a phrase,


  • you can shape a whole world of language. Shaping those little trees can tell you what

    你可以精進世界上的任何一種語言。 畫出這些小樹們可以告訴你什麼是

  • language is. And that’s worth the climb.


  • So weve reached the end of the Ling Space for this week, but if you were making your


  • own happy little trees, you learned that sentences must have an internal structure to them if were


  • going to capture the facts we know about them; that the basic template of that structure


  • needs to be flexible and universal; that the template in X’ theory consists of a head,


  • a phrase, and as many bar levels as you need to fit all the words you have; and that the


  • structure should branch off two-by-two to fit the facts about hierarchy that we feel are true.


  • The Ling Space is written and produced by me, Moti Lieberman. It’s directed by Adèlelise

    林式空間(語言學空間)是由我撰寫且製作,我是Moti Lieberman。由 Adèle-Élise Prévost

  • Prévost, our production assistant is Georges Coulombe, our music and sound design is by

    所指導,我們的製作助理是Georges Coulombe,我們音樂設計是

  • Shane Turner, and our graphics team is atelierMUSE. Were down in the comments below, or you

    Shane Turner,我們的製圖團隊是atelierMUSE。就都在下方備註欄,或是你

  • can take the discussion back over to our website, where we have more information on this


  • topic. Check us out on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, and if you want to keep expanding


  • your own personal Ling Space, please subscribe. And well see you next Wednesday. /seləvu/!


So let’s talk about trees. But not the kind with flowers or fruit or leaves. No, I mean

所以我們來談談「樹」,但是不是那種有花、長果子或有葉子的那種。 不!我指的是


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